Clause 5. — (Justification.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Defamation (Amendment) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th June 1952.

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Photo of Mr Harold Lever Mr Harold Lever , Manchester Cheetham 12:00 am, 27th June 1952

What has been suggested by the unanimous decision of the Porter Committee, and the view I respectfully commend to the House, is that this tendency to chop up phrases and to make out of what any ordinary individual would regard as one charge a whole series of charges, is not a wholesome process and runs contrary to the very sound general principle that a defendant should prove the substantial truth of what he has uttered. That is the defence upon the merits of the need for the Clause, and I just want to say a word or two about the fears, which, coming from my hon. Friends, I respect, about the misuse of the Clause.

I feel that my hon. Friends are not showing enough confidence in the good sense and the sense of justice of British juries, because, as has been already pointed out, it would be for the jury to say whether or not the additional charge was of a kind which did substantial damage to the plaintiff's reputation.